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Blog Archive


How do you pronounce "Ryugu?"

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/07 02:06 CDT | 1 comments

With some help from astronomer Elizabeth Tasker and a group of astronomy graduate students from the University of Hokkaido, I learn how.

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Hayabusa2's target asteroid has a name!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/05 12:19 CDT | 2 comments

JAXA announced today the results of the naming contest for Hayabusa2. The target of the sample-return mission, formerly known as 1999 JU3 and still numbered 162173, is now named 162173 Ryugu.

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Favorite Astro Plots #1: Asteroid orbital parameters

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/10/01 03:42 CDT | 3 comments

This is the first in a series of posts in which scientists share favorite planetary science plots. For my #FaveAstroPlot, I explain what you can see when you look at how asteroid orbit eccentricity and inclination vary with distance from the Sun.

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Dawn Journal: 8 Years in Space

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/09/28 07:49 CDT | 17 comments

On the 8th anniversary of the launch of the Dawn spacecraft, Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman gives his annual summary of Dawn’s progress on its interplanetary travels.

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Searching for the Origins of Earth’s Water

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/09/17 10:03 CDT | 1 comments

Three recently proposed low-cost space missions all aim to answer the same question: Where did Earth's abundant water come from?

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Dawn Ceres image bonanza: Grab your 3D glasses!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/09 08:04 CDT | 4 comments

For months, Dawn has been steadily, methodically sharing dozens of images of brand-new sights of a previously unexplored icy world. For the last couple of days I've been making up for lost time, completely buried in the Dawn Ceres images, and I have some maps and 3D anaglyphs to share with you.

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Populating the OSIRIS-REx Science Deck

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/09/01 02:34 CDT | 1 comments

The assembly of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues, with many elements integrated onto the spacecraft ahead of schedule. Last month both OTES and OVIRS were delivered to Lockheed Martin and installed on the science deck.

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Dawn Journal: Mapping Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/08/22 01:05 CDT | 48 comments

More than two centuries after its discovery, Ceres is being mapped in great detail by the Dawn spacecraft. Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman gives an update on Dawn's progress.

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Dawn Journal: Descent to HAMO

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/07/30 09:45 CDT | 26 comments

With a wonderfully rich bounty of pictures and other observations already secured, Dawn is now on its way to an even better vantage point around dwarf planet Ceres.

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Proposals to Explore the Solar System’s Smallest Worlds

Posted by Van Kane on 2015/07/27 12:14 CDT | 10 comments

Van Kane rounds up some of the latest NASA Discovery mission proposals aiming to explore our solar system's smallest bodies.

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Dawn at Ceres: A haze in Occator crater?

Posted by Andrew Rivkin on 2015/07/21 05:54 CDT | 17 comments

While Pluto deservedly stole the headlines last week, Chris Russell’s Dawn update at the Exploration Science Forum at NASA Ames reminded us that the other dwarf planets are also sharing their secrets with eager scientists.

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OSIRIS-REx – Testing In Progress

Posted by Annie Wargetz on 2015/07/17 03:12 CDT

While the OLA, OCAMS, and REXIS instruments on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continue working towards their deliveries, other hardware onsite at Lockheed is undergoing testing prior to installation. The hardware is put through tests here on Earth prior to launching into space.

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Dawn Journal: Ceres' Intriguing Geology

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/06/30 12:51 CDT | 10 comments

Dawn is continuing to unveil a Ceres of mysteries at the first dwarf planet discovered. Mission Director Marc Rayman gives us an update.

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5 Steps to Preventing Asteroid Impact

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/06/30 12:33 CDT | 2 comments

For Asteroid Day, Bruce Betts reviews 5 steps needed to prevent asteroid impact, as well as how The Planetary Society is involved in those.

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Dawn Journal: Spiralling Closer to Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/05/29 07:32 CDT | 6 comments

Dawn's Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman gives an update as the spacecraft's orbit takes it even closer to the dwarf planet Ceres.

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Tons of fun with the latest Ceres image releases from Dawn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/05/22 04:59 CDT | 20 comments

Fantastic new images of Ceres continue to spill out of the Dawn mission, and armchair scientists all over the world are zooming into them, exploring them, and trying to solve the puzzles that they contain.

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Two Months from Pluto!

Posted by Paul Schenk on 2015/05/19 06:12 CDT | 5 comments

Two months. Eight and half weeks. 58 days. It's a concept almost too difficult to grasp: we are on Pluto's doorstep.

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OSIRIS-REx – Seeking Answers to the Sweet Mystery of Life

Posted by Jason Dworkin on 2015/05/07 12:21 CDT | 2 comments

The nature of the origin of life is a topic that has engaged people since ancient times. The samples to be collected by OSIRIS-REx, returned to the Earth in 2023 and archived for decades beyond that, may indeed hide the secrets to the origin of life.

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A week's worth of "RC3" images from Dawn at Ceres

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/05/05 12:25 CDT | 1 comments

Now that Dawn is in its science orbit at Ceres, the mission has been releasing new images every weekday!

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Dawn Journal: Getting Down to Science at Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/05/01 03:02 CDT | 14 comments

Dawn Mission Director and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman gives a status update on the mission, having finally arrived at dwarf planet Ceres.

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